Friday Niight Hero: A.L. Brown’s Jamill Lott
By Mike London
KANNAPOLIS ó It’s Concord Week at A.L. Brown, and an ugly, black, sprawling spider rests in peace beneath a tombstone at the entrance to the locker room.
“For Concord, everyone’s hyped a little more and hyped a few days earlier,” quarterback Jamill Lott said. “All games are big. This one is the biggest by far.”
The unfortunate spider’s pregame fate hasn’t changed in 50 years. Neither have the green words of inspiration on the white greaseboard.
Muscular Wonders enter the room and are greeted by “Those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”
Then they read, “The dictionary is the only place success comes before work.”
The quotations are cornier than a bowl of Tony’s frosted flakes, but no one rolls his eyes. This is an environment in which coaches still quote Vince Lombardi more than Vince Vaughn, and players still hang on every word.Football is so important in this former mill town it might as well be in Texas. For the seniors, Friday’s clash with Concord will be a night they’ll remember long after they’ve forgotten wedding anniversaries.
To surrender the “Victory Bell” to the Spiders means putting a damper on life right through graduation. To win means total joy.
The Wonders (8-2) expect jubilation, pizza and hugs. They have faith in their stingy defense and their QB.
“That man right there is someone Concord will be hatin’ on Friday,” predicted upbeat receiver T.J. Johnson, as he pointed at Lott.
Teammates and coaches have learned to love Lott. Opponents have learned a lot of respect and a little hate.
Lott has been an elite utility man while waiting for his chance to have the ball in his hands on every snap as a senior. Now he’s the sort of QB defensive coordinators fear most because he is a kick returner at heart.
Lott, the decent passer, sets up Lott, the fearless runner. He can use his legs at any time to turn a bad play into a first down.
He’s as sharp as he is athletic and makes good decisions. He’s tossed three picks in 139 attempts.
Recruiters put the 6-foot-1 Lott, who has 4.5 speed, in the “Athlete” category. If you’re a pessimist, that means no defined position. If you’re an optimist, “ATH” means Lott could thrive at DB, receiver or returner.
Lott, who handles the classroom smoothly, has offers from Appalachian State, Wofford and Western Carolina. He still hopes to hear from Wake Forest.
Lott last started at quarterback as a jayvee freshman. He caught passes and played DB as a varsity soph. He was expected to break out as a junior playing both ways, but a broken collarbone in a scrimmage cost him seven games and cost recruiters a lot of film.
Former QB Jonathan Efird, who is now at Western Carolina, threw for 4,000 yards the past two seasons while running for 400.
Lott has thrown for 1,034 yards and 10 TDs this season while rushing for 675 yards. He’s had six 100-yard passing games. Against quality foes Mooresville and Sun Valley, he surpassed 100 yards rushing and passing.
The most impressive thing about Lott was his positive response to the pair of picks he threw in a 35-28 setback at Anson.
Brown hasn’t lost since.
“You have a bad game, you learn from it and step up,” he said. “You can’t get down. Got to keep pushing.”
The Wonders expect Lott’s skills to push the young Spiders hard.
“Nothing Jamill’s done has surprised me because I’ve seen it for years,” Johnson said. “Whatever Jamill has to do, he’ll do.”